Recommended Reading #3: Good to Great

In this blog, I consider a staple business read like Good to Great to be advance reading.  But this book was so inspirational to me.  I happened to read it at the time when I was struggling with an employee, one who had been with the business for years, and some of this book really spoke to me about what I was going through.  \

Have your direct reports read it to.  There’s an important sections for them:


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Tip for the Departing CEO #3

Annotate your Google Analytics.

A new feature of Analytics that rolled out this past year was Annotations.  They allow you to make a note on any given day about what caused a spike in traffic to your website.  For example, my company did a Groupon feature.  When we did this, the traffic to our web page was the highest it had ever been – by 500%.  So I have a little note in Google Analytics that says “Groupon feature.”

So if I hadn’t had done that, two years later no one would remember why there was such a spike in January.    This is a very powerful tool when it comes to tracking your marketing ROI.

For a video on Annotations, see here.

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Proper business etiquette

I am amazed at some people’s behavior during business events.

I had a potential vendor answer a phone call when I was giving her a private tour.

I have had multiple people show up late for interviews.

I had a salesperson for a local newspaper show up 45 minutes late to our meeting.  We were a potential advertiser.  Not anymore!

I had a guy call me and schedule a GoToMeeting.  He sent a calender invitation to confirm the meeting which I accepted.  He then called me 10 minutes before the meeting, and assumed that since I wasn’t in the office yet we weren’t having our meeting.  So when I logged in for the meeting, he wasn’t set up, so he had to call me back and we started our meeting 10 minutes late.

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Tip for the Departing CEO #2

Write Your Job Description

Some people have told me that writing your own job description is more difficult then writing someone else’s.  In my experience, it’s not.  There has to be some record of what you do in general.  As someone who has been CEO for a while, you should have no problem writing a job description, but also think about how much of your time is devoted to the specific responsibilities you have.  As a small business owner, do you spend 10 hours a week meeting with your direct reports?  How much of a percentage of your time is that?  What about your time spent on Marketing?  Reading financial reports?

Maybe spend a week writing down everything that you do.  That’s an interesting process in itself.


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Recommended Reading #2

Something for Dummies

Seriously.  For me it was Quickbooks for Dummies.  Then I read The Idiot’s Guide to Search Engine Optimization.  Then Small Business Financial Management Kit for Dummies.

You get the picture.  Those books are a great place to start.

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Tip for the Departing CEO #1

Tip number one for the Departing CEO is:

Have a Support Group.

For example, my father was a member of Vistage.  When he passed away, the Vistage group was THE number one most important resource I had.   Vistage is CEO Coaching, Executive Coaching, Leadership Coaching, and CEO Mentoring.  Dad had been in the group for years, so everyone in the group was familiar with the past few years of the company’s growth and changes.  We meet monthly, in group and usually have a presentation by a group member, a speaker, and then everyone checks in.  It is a fantastic time to hear what other CEOs are doing and toss out new ideas.  In addition, we have a group leader, who meets with us individually (called 1-2-1s).

When my father passed away, they developed a Tiger Team.  A Tiger Team is usually a day long, intense look at your company.  It is made up of volunteers in your Vistage Group.  My Tiger Team, however, was a little bit different.  They meet once a month with me, for a year, to help guide me.  I practice giving presentations to them, effective hand outs, I bounce ideas off of them.  It has been a priceless experience for me.

Vistage isn’t the only group, and I don’t know anything about other groups, but the stronger support network you have, the easier it will be for your successor.

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Recommended Reading #1

Buy Low, Sell High, Collect Early, and Pay Late:  The Manager’s Guide to Financial Survival

This was the first real book I read as CEO.  This book was purchased for me by a fellow Vistage member.  It serves as an excellent introduction to corporate finances, which, unless you are coming from a finance or business background, any New CEO needs to learn about.  The book is an excellent introduction to financial terminology and concepts, even though it is pretty basic.

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